Isn’t it funny how sometimes the normal everyday experiences of our life lead to the most insightful realizations?
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my daughters’ dance recital. I don’t know very much about dance, and I certainly don’t have the skills needed to ever be a dancer, but what I do have is a genuine appreciation for talent. And I saw a lot of it at that dance show.
I have pointed out on previous occasions that it doesn’t take talent to be a good teammate, but being a good teammate is a talent.
While I was watching the dance recital, it occurred to me how closely the talent of a good teammate resembles the talent of a good dancer. I would even take it a step farther and say that the art of being a good teammate is like a never-ending dance.
In this instance, I am not focusing on the dancer’s talent in terms of things like hard work, dedication, determination, etc. Those are omnipresent in the development of all types of talent. I’m not referring to flexibility or agility, or skills like that either. The specific element of dance talent that caught my attention involves timing and spacing.
When dancers are doing solo performances, it is hard to tell when they make timing or spacing mistakes. If they start a move a beat too soon or too late, you don’t really know if it was supposed to be that way, or not. The same thing is true if they make a move on center stage instead of stage left. You just cannot tell if it is a mistake or just bad choreography.
It is slightly easier to spot timing and spacing mistakes with a duo, but it can still be a challenge.
When a third dancer is added to the performance, however, it becomes obvious when the spacing and/or timing is off. The third dancer becomes a reference point.
If one dancer does a pirouette before the other two, you may not know if she was too early or if the other two were too late, but you definitely know something was off in the performance. That’s timing.
If the dancers are in a line on stage, and there is a nine-foot gap between the middle and left dancers, but only a six-foot gap between the middle and right dancers, you know someone is not in the correct position. That’s spacing.
My daughters were some of the recital’s youngest performers. One of the dances they were involved in was a three-person dance to Twisted Sister’s song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The theme of the dance was girl power, with the dancers’ costumes fashioned to resemble success female professionals—a doctor, a businesswoman, and a policewoman.
Even at their age, I could spot the skill displayed in terms of adjusting their spacing on stage.
When one girl was nine feet away from the middle dancer, either the middle girl or the third girl had to adjust their spacing on the fly to accommodate the first dancer’s spacing. It didn’t really matter if the gap was choreographed to be six feet, or seven feet, or whatever, the fact was she was spaced at nine feet and the other dancers had to make an adjustment to cover her misstep.
They couldn’t control her spacing, they could only control and adjust their own spacing.
The real challenge is that during the performance, they couldn’t point out the mistake in spacing to the other dancer. It’s not like they could just yell for her to move forward. Maybe the instructor could do that during the rehearsals, but not during the live performance. As the saying goes, the show must go on. And as it does, you must learn to be poised and professional.
The same is true for being a good teammate. You cannot control the “spacing” (attitudes, actions, choices, etc.) of your teammates. You can only control how you act and react.
Just like a dancer, you must constantly adjust to accommodate the missteps of your fellow teammates—counter and balance movements. It’s that constant willingness to make adjustments for the betterment of the team that ultimately defines the kind of teammate you are.
As the line in the John Michael Montgomery country song goes, “Life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead. Sometimes you follow.” That line captures the essence of the never-ending dance that is the art of being a good teammate.
As always…Remember: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.